With metrics and analytics driving more B2B purchasing decisions, companies must be able to support their marketing claims with evidence-based data. But is proving your business value enough? Not according to new research from CEB Marketing and Google.
Their research found that products touting only their business value (i.e., functional benefits and impacts on business outcomes) achieved a 21.4% increase in commercial outcomes such as sales, brand advocacy and buyers’ willingness to pay a premium. On the other hand, products touting personal value (i.e., professional, emotional, social and self-image benefits for the buyers themselves) achieved a 42.6% increase in commercial outcomes. As a result, the researchers conclude that “personal value has twice as much impact as business value” in B2B marketing.
Before you start cramming your marketing funnel with campaigns focused on personal value, you should read the research carefully. It acknowledges that being able to prove real business value is “table stakes” for B2B companies. In other words, your product’s business value must be clear and demonstrable just to get your foot in a prospect’s door. Only then do you have a chance to appeal to the prospect through marketing campaigns built around personal value.
Another note about this research: it advocates personal value-based marketing because prospects are more willing to “pay extra” for a product than they are when wooed by business value-based marketing. However, many B2B companies (especially those in the HR space) aren’t aiming to extract such a premium from their clients. In fact, they have to do just the opposite, operating on smaller margins and stressing the cost-efficiency of their products and services. So, if your marketing isn’t intended to persuade buyers to “pay extra” for your offerings, personal value campaigns might be less suitable.
Despite these quibbles, I agree with the bottom line of the research. For the most effective B2B marketing strategy, appeal to buyers on both fronts—business value and personal value. Tell your story with hard numbers and empirical evidence … but also tell it in ways that win your buyers’ hearts and minds.
The CEB/Google report offers several examples of companies that are seeing results from marketing campaigns that highlight personal value as well as business value. Xerox, for instance, has created YouTube videos using this approach. Its “Hue-Phoria” video markets the company’s color printers to teachers and schools by highlighting the fact that color printing can boost students’ ability to learn, drive better outcomes for schools in the form of improved test scores and increased funding, and benefit teachers by making them feel fulfilled and relieved.
Marketing campaigns built around personal value probably won’t work for all B2B companies. But like any other marketing strategy, it deserves consideration—especially by companies looking for ways to further differentiate themselves in highly crowded markets.
About the Author: Michael Civiello is a communications strategist and senior writer at fisher VISTA. He collaborates with clients every day to develop messaging, content and PR campaigns that build brand awareness and marketplace credibility.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.